HUMBERSTON, Thomas (c.1730-55), of Humberston, Lincs.
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Family and Education
b. c.1730, 1st surv. s. of Matthew Humberston by his w. Rebecca who m. (2) Benjamin Pryse. suc. fa. 1736.
Humberston was returned after a contest in which he defeated Henry Vernon, one of the Duke of Bridgwater’s candidates. The Duke, patron of Brackley, was a minor and on his Grand Tour, and an opposition appears to have been assiduously organized during his absence. The Duke of Bedford, Bridgwater’s guardian, believed that the plot had been ‘a good while in agitation’ and discontent had been ‘raised by individuals in the borough in order to stir up for their own advantage an opposition’;1 and on 13 Apr. 1754 Vernon told Bedford that he thought the scheme had been ‘laid and encouraged by persons that do not at present appear in it’. Of Humberston himself Bedford wrote to Bridgwater: ‘I could not find for a long time any one that knew such a person, and it was the opinion of many I spoke with that this was only a phantom conjured up, to create an expense’; but Robert Wood, Bridgwater’s tutor, replied from Lyons, 18 May:
[Humberston] must I think be an old acquaintance of mine who his Grace and I met last summer in our tour through Savoy;2 if so his fortune is by no means equal to such a scheme and should he attempt to establish an interest at Brackley, it must be as injurious in the end to himself as it is now disagreeable to the Duke.
According to Vernon, Humberston was a member of the Society of Dilettanti.
Bedford, seeing ‘no possibility of carrying two Members for Brackley, but by outbidding them’, and thinking ‘the Duke of Bridgwater’s future interest in that borough may run great risk of being totally lost’, authorized Bridgwater’s agent to ‘go as far as two thousand pounds ... towards the obtaining the secure election of the two candidates in his Grace’s interest’. If this was unsuccessful he advised a compromise with Humberston. But Vernon did not think there was any possibility of succeeding: ‘Our opponents are kept constantly in a body at breakfast, dinner and supper, and their wives have been bribed so high that they will neither let us see them, or hearken to any proposals.’ Bedford himself then went to Brackley but found Humberston had been so alert, that his election could not be prevented. Marshe Dickinson received 33 votes, Humberston 18, and Vernon 15.
Humberston was intent on establishing a lasting interest at Brackley. Bedford wrote to Bridgwater on 29 Apr. 1754:
Mr. Humberston ... intends to try at law with your Grace the right of nomination in the steward of your court and the mayor, of two persons to be elected into the body upon vacancies occasioned by the death of any of the 33 members of the corporation, and that he has likewise established a weekly club of your opposers to which he allows a guinea a week.
Humberston was also a candidate at Grimsby in 1754 but there is no record of a poll, and he probably withdrew before the election.
In Dupplin’s list of the Parliament of 1754 he was classed as ‘For, of various connexions’, but nothing is known of the part he took in the House.
He was concerned with improving his estates and in his will he enjoined his heirs to continue the work which he had ‘already begun and made great progress in’. He died 22 July 1755.